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The neglected Lands of Delaware-Repeopling the Slave Re
gion-Condition, Soil, and Products—Crops and LumberFarms for Sale, and Prices-Railroads-Maryland Farms.
The State of Delaware is rapidly coming before the public in a new and regenerated attitude. The immemorial blight of slavery is fast disappearing. A wholesale Northern emigration is coming in to enlighten and control the remaining heresies which, for a generation at least, must linger among those who were born and educated to believe in them. About eighteen months ago, an association of prominent citizens was formed, with no view to individual profit, but having for its sole object the circulation of knowledge touching the cheap and fertile lands of the State, so that Northern settlers might be drawn thither, thus at once crushing out at the ballot-box the pro-slavery element which had ruled and blasted the region. Many such have become purchasers in consequence of this information, and the number is constantly increasing.
As Delaware presents great attractions for those who desire a farm, much pains has been taken to obtain a full insight into the condition and prices of land, and of its facilities for reaching market. A leading object of the association referred to was the improvement of the State by introducing farmers, artisans, manufacturers, and tradesmen, from other localities. A special object was to develop the agricultural resources of the State, particularly the Central and Southern portions, by encouraging the settlement of truckers, who would purchase and divide the large tracts into small truck farms, producing fruit and vegetables for the Philadelphia and New York markets. This course would not only bring the lands into a higher state of cultivation, but would invite a thriving and enterprising population, greatly adding to the productive wealth of the State, purifying its political atmosphere, and enhancing the value of property.
For the securing of these ends, it was necessary to disabuse the North in regard to the true sentiment of the State, and to assure all who thought of settling there, that they would be welcomed by a large and intelligent portion of the population, from whatever section of the country they might come, and whatever their political views, if loyal to the Government, and disposed to contribute to the development of the resources of the State. The documents thus put forth for general information have been freely used in this chapter.
Such an enterprise appeals strongly to Northern self-interest. It cannot be doubted that, in thus de veloping Delaware and adjoining sections of the peninsula, with other portions of the South, the trading interests of the North will be largely benefited. By furnishing increased facilities to settlers, capitalists of all classes may make profitable invest
ments in new village locations, in lots, and in manufacturing and other establishments, which would greatly appreciate in value with the growth of the place. Destined, as Delaware is, to be the great thoroughfare to Eastern Virginia and the further South, when a general tide of emigration shall set in that direction after the war, investments wisely made in that State must be highly remunerative. In the past, many properties have doubled in value within a few years.
After Delaware has been thus unionized and emancipated, the idea was to present the same potent example of the superiority of free-labor enterprise to other portions of the South. Maryland was to come next, then her neighbors. It is averred, as the most probable hypothesis, that at the close of the rebellion, a large standing army must be maintained for years, or the sentiment of union and liberty must be rapidly created in the South by an infusion of Northern emigration. The blood of the two sections must be made to mingle--the Yankee taking his seat beside the Southron, there teaching him a new lesson of life, how to work or whittleuntil he is educated to the right sentiment. Such infusion must be an overflowing one. But the signs of the times indicate that such will be its character.
In Delaware, slavery would still be, as it always has been, a fatal objection to settlement there.
The Milford News stated, in 1858, that “in Newcastle, the most northerly county in Delaware, where there are scarcely any slaves, improved lands are worth over $50 per acre, while in Sussex, where the bulk of the slaves of the State are held, lands are worth only from $7 to $8 per acre.” The same paper says, that three years previous, “A band of 300 Swiss emigrants arrived in New York with all their arrangements made to settle in Delaware. They were farmers, with money to buy land ; and hearing that land was cheap in Delaware-a State settled by their fathers—they concluded to settle there; but finding, on their arrival, that Delaware was a slave State, they passed us by, settled in Ohio, and helped to augment the wealth of that young giant of the Union.” The sagacious editor declared, eight years ago, that an act of emancipation would at once increase the value of real estate in Delaware five millions of dollars. But emancipation is now at her very door-rebellion has destroyed the institution, and the few slaves are rapidly disappearing. Northern immigration will soon secure an entire eradication of this only remaining drawback to the prosperity of the State. Delaware may therefore be considered a free State, running with Maryland a race for freedom.
The Puritan element having never predominated in Delaware, churches and schools are scarcer than in New England. Slavery has cast its usual blight on the religion and education of her people. Yet these indispensable elements of a high civilization are not wholly absent. They exist in larger extent than in most places where land is equally cheap. They are incomparably better developed than in the new States and Territories of the extreme West. There are churches of different denominations in the principal villages, and a large number within convenient distances in the country. Schools exist in equal number; while the villages and towns contain others of a better class, and sometimes academies. The great need is an infusion of Northern religious and educational elements.
A farmer can do but little active work without health. The country is, in general, pre-eminently healthy, the climate being mild and regular. It is recommended to all who are troubled with pulmonary or bronchial diseases incident to bleak and changeable Northern latitudes. Preachers, who had been compelled by these affections to abandon the pulpit, have been enabled to resume it after a few months' residence in Delaware. It has also advantages, in point of healthfulness, over more newly settled regions, in being less subject to chills and fever. Good soft water abounds, at from ten to twenty feet.
All fruits and vegetables can be raised for very early market. A week or two at the beginning of a season, is sometimes worth thousands to the truckman. Ploughing can generally be done all through the winter.
There is almost every variety of soil, most of which may be said to be the natural home of the peach and sweet potato. Major Anthony Reybold has netted $20,000 in one season from peaches. Mr. George Parrish, from 9,000 trees, occupying ninety acres, in 1863, netted $10,000. The tree is here free from the blights that affect it in the North, thus it lives and thrives for many years. Sweet potatoes produce enormously, as much as